The Health and Safety Executive launched its controversial Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme in 2012.
When first announced, there were concerns that it was merely an exercise to raise money from unsuspecting employers for the Treasury and HSE.
Years on, has that proven to be the case? And, more importantly, do you as an employer understand what Fee for Intervention is and how it may affect your organisation?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Fee for Intervention?
Fee for Intervention is a “cost recovery scheme” operated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, workplaces found to be in “material breach” of health and safety laws are liable for recovery of the HSE’s costs for any inspection, investigation and enforcement action that is undertaken. A material breach occurs when the HSE issues a notification of contravention, an improvement or prohibition notice, or a prosecution.
Free Download: Definitive Guide to General Risk Assessments
Identify risks and keep your business compliant with this free guide
When would a Fee for Intervention be issued?
This depends on whether or not you are in material breach and if the sector you operate in falls under the HSE inspection regime. Those which the HSE are responsible for include: factories, mines, schools, fairgrounds, nursing homes, government premises, and dentists and doctors’ surgeries.
Premises which are inspected by Local Authorities and other enforcement agencies are not currently subject to FFI, although an independent review of FFI in 2014 recommended that the scheme should be extended.
For what sort of material breaches are Fee for Intervention charges imposed?
The HSE identifies four general areas that may trigger Fee for Intervention charges:
- Health risks – exposure to harmful substances such as dust, fumes and chemicals or energy such as noise or vibration.
- Safety risks – where potential effects are immediate due to traumatic injury, e.g. contact with moving machinery, falls from height, contact with vehicles.
- Welfare breaches – requirements that are part of the controls required for health risks, or a basic right of people in a modern society.
- Management of health and safety risks – capability to manage risks to a sustainable, acceptable level.
How much are the charges?
The HSE charge £157 per hour for involvement in health and safety material breaches.
Here are some example costs provided by the HSE:
- Inspection resulting in an email or letter: £750;
- Inspection resulting in a notice being issued: £1,500;
- Investigation taking four days: £4,000; and
- Full investigation: could be tens of thousands.
Inevitably, charges are likely to be higher for multiple contraventions.
FFI charges are on top of HSE fines and associated legal costs.
Is the HSE getting more stringent?
Yes. Although fewer inspections are being carried out, the number of enforcement notices appears to be on an upward trend. Over the last five years, the HSE has issued on average 9,358 enforcement notices every year. In 2013/14, the HSE issued 10,119 notices, an increase of 15% on the previous year.
By way of example, one in three construction sites visited generates an Fee for Intervention invoice.
How do I avoid a HSE Fee for Intervention?
The key is to ensure you are compliant with legislation. Typically, Ellis Whittam’s Health & Safety specialists find about 50 transgressions on a first visit (it’s not unheard of to find more than 100!), of which about half a dozen would attract Fee for Intervention. In short, the safest approach is to follow competent health and safety advice and comply with the law.
Not only will a robust health and safety regime help to avoid prosecution and Fee for Intervention charges, but you also benefit from a safer and more productive workplace.
Does Ellis Whittam’s Legal Expenses Insurance cover Fee for Intervention?
Yes. If you’ve been with Ellis Whittam for six months, your General Risk Assessment is completed and you’ve acted on our recommendations, the Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) will cover up to £5,000 of FFI charges.
Additionally, in the event of prosecution, LEI supports the cost of appealing against notices and representing you in court. The combination of support from your local Ellis Whittam Health & Safety Consultant and the cover of LEI offers the best possible level of protection.